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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  May 28, 2014 6:00am-8:01am PDT

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gettsman "the sixties" tomorrow, 9:00 eastern on cnn. i got a preview of the first episode. very worthwhile. >> by the way, the governor didn't know you were pregnant. i let him think you put on a few. time for the "newsroom" with carol costello. >> you made every woman in the country angry, chris cuomo. >> kate, you look beautiful. i'll let you fight among yourselves. have a great day. "newsroom" starts now. -- captions by vitac -- good morning. i'm carol costello, thank you so much for joining me. next hour president obama faces the next generation of military leaders and outlines his foreign policy for a nation weary from a decade of war. he will deliver the commencement speech just over an hour from now at the u.s. military academy at west point. it will stress the value of
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international cooperation in dealing with crises and avoid the open-ended conflicts that left american troops bogged down in iraq and afghanistan. a day after obama revealed his plans for the final u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, a reminder of the dangers that still fester there. a u.s. consulate vehicle is attacked and two americans injured. critics are sure to say it's another example of a weakened president defied on the world stage and no longer packing the threat of swift and decisive military action. last hour on cnn secretary of state john kerry pushed back against those who say obama backed down during russia's military intervention in ukraine. >> it is very clear that the opposite of what you just laid out has happened. putin was threatening to come in with troops. in fact, those troops are now being withdrawn. they've had a successful election for a president of ukraine. i think the president's policy has worked. i think the european alliance has been strengthened.
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the unity between europe and the united states is what has empowered this election to take place and made it clear to russia that the west is unified -- >> let's peel away some of those layers. michelle kosinski is at the white house. and in london, correspondent jim sciutto is standing by. i'll start with you, michelle. >> reporter: we will hear some announcement on syria. we know it's going to include some increase in assistance to the moderate syrian opposition. jay carney, the white house spokesman left a sort of cliff-hanger for us. he gave a briefing as the president is on the weight of this speech. he's asked is this going to mean military training for those opposition fighters as has been talked about these last two days. he said i'm going to leave it to the president on that. we're just going to have to wait and see what president obama has to say. what this means is military
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training. however, i will say that secretary of state kerry, in doing these interviews today with broadcast networks did say in no uncertain terms that this would be no american boots on the ground. so we know it's going to be some additional assistance. also, the president is going to announce what he would like to see happen to be approved by congress, this anti-terrorism fund, a partnership involving a number of nations that would train other countries to fight radical -- to fight terrorist elements within those countries. the problem is cnn's barbara starr brought up a good point on that. even if this does go through and it would be about $5 billion ideally, would it really work? in some of the countries where an effort like that would be most useful or most needed, those are the places where the governments are the most changeable or undefined, most difficult to work with, enacting something like that.
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there are obviously some questions surrounding this. syria seems to be one area in this address where the president can be proactive and make a real announcement that could change things in the near future, carol. >> we'll see. michelle kosinski, stand by. jim sciutto is in london. the rub on president obama is he's wooerk on the world stage. does the world perceive the u.s. president as weak? >> reporter: i think the harsh answer is yes, in some places. i think they can be an exaggerated point of view. the u.s. -- i've spent a lot of time overseas going back to the george w. bush days, you're either too hot or too cold. in the bush days u.s. is too aggressive. many people say now the obama presidency not aggressive enough. meanwhile, there is more respect out there than i think we acknowledge in these places because people know there's a weight that the u.s. carries that other countries can't
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compete with. that said, there are questions about the obama foreign policy. this speech comes at a crucial time and a difficult time for his foreign policy. crucial because halfway through his second term he's talking now about foreign policy decisions that are going to define his legacy. difficult because so many of the foreign policy challenges now are in extremely challenging phases. michelle mentioned syria, two years in, 100,000 dead. you can't argue u.s. policy worked there. libya, you successfully deposed moammar cat daffy, but you can't call that a success either. it's been dragged back by events in the middle east and even events in europe with the crisis in ukraine. although it was a largely successful election there on the weekend, big portions of the eastern part of that country did not vote, 10%, 15% turnout
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because russian-backed militants still operating there with free reign. this is an extremely challenging time for foreign policy. and even if it is exaggerated that america is weak on the global stage, there are real questions out there, but also hear at home about what exactly is the obama foreign policy. how do you tie these regions and efforts together. what is the driving force? what is the mission? is the mission just reducing expectations of what america can accomplish? that's one of the chief criticisms. that will be one of the key challenges for the president today, to define how you tie all these things together. what is the mission statement for obama and for foreign policy? that's what's been lacking. >> we'll be listening, michelle kosinski, jim sciutto, many thanks to you. stay with cnn as we await president obama's expected speech on foreign policy, it should come your way about 10:15 eastern. a team of correspondents and analysts ready to discuss them
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all. our special coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern. the difficult task of returning life to normal on the class of one day after 20,000 stand shoulder to shoulder calling for an end to gun violence. stephanie elam is in santa barbara this morning. good morning, stephanie. >> reporter: good morning, carol. it was a moving vigil, just the beginning of a long road back to healing. >> not one more! not one more! >> reporter: channeleding to end gun violence, around 20,000 people packed a uc santa barbara stadium. >> we are here because we want to share memories of the young lives struck down far too soon. >> reporter: honoring all six victims murdered in the killing spree at the hand of 22-year-old elliot rodger, speakers demanding change so a deadly
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rampage like this does not happen again. >> how many more people are going to have to die in this situation before the problem gets solved? >> reporter: already one proposed change, two california assembly members announcing legislation tuesday. leaders on the national level speaking out as well. >> there are compromises that will save lives. keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, whether they're severely mentally ill or felons or drug addicts, background checks will help stem and stop gun violence. >> reporter: more vigils were held across santa barbara as video and stories of heroism emerge. this surveillance video capturing students inside a pizza parlor ducking and scrambling for cover as the gunman, driving by, fires inside. >> people are panicking. i said everything is fine, let's just get back there. >> reporter: a good samaritan, the clerk of a 7-eleven ran outside to help a cyclist who was shot, pulling her to safety
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and health her she would survive. >> we got a stool and put her down right here. we sat her down. you could see she had two gunshots right here, so you could see the bullets. >> reporter: 12 others were injured as rodger fired round after round. this morning classes at the university are set to resume. those two california democrats plan to introduce a bill that would basically keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and would allow loved ones if they allow someone who is mentally ill and could potentially become violent to alert authorities and hopefully intervene before they could go out and buy guns. >> stephanie eel loom lam live morning. new reports saying if you think edward snowden was just a whistle-blower, you're wrong. he was actually a spy. ♪
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has the fastest retinol formula to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles in just one week. neutrogena®. checking top stories for you at 13 minutes past. house veterans affairs committee meets tonight to discuss dozens of suspicious deaths at the va hospital in phoenix. the facility allegedly hit patients on waiting lists and some later died. top va officials are expected to appear. the white house is asking the top lawyer to find out how the identity of the cia station chief in afghanistan was
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inadvertently revealed. it happened sunday when the president made a surprise visit to u.s. troops. the names of everyone attending a briefing with the president including that cia chief were e-mailed to thousands of people on the white house mailing list. a big night for the tea party in texas. cnn projects john radcliffe beating 91-year-old hall. conservative radio talk host dan patrick won over david dewhurst running for a fourth term. police in canada used facebook to find a baby snatched from a hospital hours after she was born. they posted a picture of the suspect who was disguised as a nurse. the suspect's friends recognized her and called police. [ crying ] >> that was the mother's reaction after police brought her baby back.
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the hospital says lit bring in experts to get answers. edward snowden was a spy. that's what he told nbc. the man who leaked 1,000 nsa documents says he was not a low level systems administrator but a cia spy. as you know for nearly a year edward snowden has been exiled in russia, unable to leave after blowing the lid on the spying program and earning charges of espionage. now the man known as a whistle-blower is breaking the silence about the other key role he claims to have served. >> i was trained as a spy in the traditional sense of the world. i worked for the central intelligence agency under cover, overseas. i worked for the national security agency under cover, overseas, and i worked for i developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous
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environments around the world. >> wow, joining me for perspective, bob beyer, cnn national security analyst and a former cia operative. welcome. >> thanks. >> was snowden really a spy? >> no. i wonder about his credibility now. when he was in geneva, he was a systems administrator. the cai doesn't take contractors and turn them into spies. yes, he had a cover, he had a name in chris spon dents when he communicated with langley. the national security agency doesn't have spies overseas. i have no idea what he's talking about. i do wonder about him now. >> how so? >> well, i mean what can you believe? he wasn't a spy. he didn't get training. he wasn't a spy in the traditional sense. what else can we believe and not believe? clearly the documents he hacked from the national security agency are legitimate. but his personality credibility
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i wonder about. >> you know what snowden says. he says the government is trying to discredit him by down playing his true position. americans are split on snowden. why would he lie about such a thing? if he were somewhat of a spy wouldn't that more easily explain how he had access to all those records, all those papers? >> no. the national security agency is sloppy in compartmenting its files. he was able to get through those fire walls, get into them and read them. i'm sure he's very good at hacking. trust me, carol, he was not a spy. i spent too long in this profession. it's not possible in any sense. everything i've heard, he was a systems administrator. again, the national security agency does not have spies overseas. it's got people that monitor computers and the rest that sit in a vault. i would hardly call that being a spy. >> so another facet of snowden's
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interview with nbc, he told brian williams the only reason he's in russia is because the united states canceled his visa into other countries. secretary of state kerry says snowden is a fugitive and that's why other countries won't allow him to cross their borders. i think we have sound from john kerry. do we? i'm asking my producers. no sound. anyway, john kerry said snowden, in essence, is not a patriot and he should come back to the united states to face the music. but by granting all these interviews, and i'm talking about edward snowden now, is he sort of paving the way back to the united states you think? >> i can't believe that we would just overlook this. he's done more damage to u.s. intelligence than anybody i can remember. i don't like the national security agency snooping into my phone and keeping databases on americans. it's unnecessary. it's subject to abuse. i fully agree with that. but, on the other hand, fleeing
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to russia, in my terms, it's an enemy of the united states, whether we like it or not. let's don't forget crimea, the ukraine. they are not our friends. he went to the other side and that's a real problem for especially people like me that worked in the cold war. >> bob baer, thanks so much for your insight. i appreciate it this morning. still to come in the "newsroom," donald sterling responds to the nba's charges against him. we'll look into his key arguments for keeping the clippers. rudy. [ barks ] [ chuckles ] i'd do anything to keep this guy happy and healthy. that's why i'm so excited about these new milk-bone brushing chews. whoa, i'm not the only one. it's a brilliant new way to take care of his teeth. clinically proven as effective as brushing. ok, here you go. have you ever seen a dog brush his own teeth? the twist and nub design cleans all the way down to the gum line, even reaching the back teeth. they taste like a treat, but they clean like a toothbrush. nothing says you care like a milk-bone brushing chew.
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surprise, surprise.
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donald sterling will now fight to keep the l.a. clippers to the bloody end, never mind that agreement with his wife shelly to sell the team to a worthy bidder, sterling has disavowed it i. comes after donald sterling sent a 26-page response to the nba on the charges levied against them. the league will go ahead and vote on his ownership. sports attorney david cornwell joining me to parse this out. you've read the entire 26-page letter i understand. >> yes, i did. >> as did i. he has a couple of good points i think. let's go through them. he says he was illegally recorded during a private conversation, what he calls an inflamed lovers quarrel in his home. do nba guidelines cover what is said privately in your home? >> certainly the argument looks good on its face. the problem is this is a private organization, it's not a
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government act. private organizations have self-governing. one of the crowning features of self governing is uniformity. there are 15 states that are one-party consent states, meaning only one party has to consent. 15 states with nba teams in there, so if this has happened in one of those states, for example, utah, that owner under sterl's argument could, in fact, be disciplined. so the answer is, if one can, all can. uniformity is important. >> that is such a lawyer argument, david. >> it's a private organization. he waived this right when he became a member of the nba and signed joint venture agreements, all sorts of agreements, he waived this right. >> that's why you're the brilliant lawyer and i'm not. he says the punishment is proportionally disproportion, talking about kobe bryant getting fined $100,000 for unleashing a gay slur, also referring to the nba taking no
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action about a comment against people with hiv/aids. is there a double standard here? >> no, not all breaches are equal. i've been saying for a while there are kryptonite issues in sports. gambling is one. over last 20 years, steroids has become another. now with donald sterling, the third crip night issue, racism. it's just treated differently. >> it's caused such a backlash in the country. that has to enter into the owner's decision as well, right? >> material adverse impact. he argues, well, i don't know if i've lost sponsors, i don't know if i've lost ticket sales. he puts on blinders and ignores how america has uniformly condemned this man for the vile opinions he expressed. that's a material adverse impact on the league. >> the last point, the owners have prejudged him before next week's hearing, already making public comments showing support
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for the nba's move. how does he get a fair hearing if the owners have already come out against him. >> if he raised points that warrant reconsideration of the charge in his answer, then the owners would reconsider. what he is doing is essentially arguing that the owners can't do what he says in his answer he can do. he says he can express opinions with impunity. why can't the other owners express their opinions with impunity. >> that's a good one. the sad thing about all this is to think that this action by donald sterling is going to accomplish, it's going to drag this out for a long period of time. i can't see how that can be avoided. >> it can't be avoided. it's really unfortunate, because this is the flagship period for nba during the play-offs, going into the finals and donald sterling is diverting focus from okc coming back two games to donald sterling and his defense to the charges.
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this sun fortunate for the nba, and his defense is having a material adverse impacts on the league. >> if you were a betting man, how will this turn out? >> he's gone, absolutely. >> he can't drag it out to next season and the players won't boycott? >> i don't think there's any chance that donald sterling will be involved in the clippers next year and i don't think the players will boycott as long as the league is acting in good faith and moving towards removing him as an owner. >> i hope you're right. david cornwell, thanks so much. still to come in the "newsroom," a president accused of being weak mounts a show of force. we'll look ahead to president obama's speech at west point and the military's role in his reshaped foreign policy.
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sad news to impart to you right now well-known poet and author maya angelou has died. she had been battling health problems recently. she was a strong voice in the civil rights community, speaking out many times on racial issues. she held a variety of jobs, fry cook, journalist, poet, author. her most famous book "i know why the caged bird sings." she was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by barack obama in 2011. angelou is the second person to recite a poem during an inauguration.
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she spoke at president bill clinton's first swearing in. maya angelou was 86 years old. we'll have much more on this later on in the "newsroom." just after the top of the hour, president obama discusses foreign policy as a war-weary nation emerges from more than a decade of conflicts. the president will deliver the commencement speech at the u.s. military academy at west point. he will underscore the need to forge international unity in dealing with crises and avoid open-ended wars like iraq and afghanistan. he'll also push back against credits who say his reluctance left the united states weakened. with me to talk about this, fareed zakaria. welcome. >> good to be with you. >> fareed, i'm going to put you on the spot right away. is america weak? >> no, gosh. america is stronger than perhaps at most points in its history. you think about when we faced the soviet union, when we faced
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a communist china that was funding revolutionary movements all over the world against us, even when we faced a pretty powerful jihadi terrorist movement. the united states is very strong, very secure. this debate is not about american strength or weakness. it's about american engagement. how should america engage with the world? >> that is the question. i guess some might argue it's easier to appear strong when you're fighting one known enemy like japan during world war ii or osama in afghanistan after 9/11. now the united states is dealing with russia, syria, boka haram, al qaeda affiliated groups all over the world. should the president focus on one or two of them? what should his foreign policy be? >> that's a very, very good point. i think it's not that there are lots of different challenges as opposed to the central challenge during the cold war, you had the soviet union and that was a kind of moral and political and
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strategic challenge, but the world of many different challenges is also much more complicated. for example, china is our second largest trading partner, yet at the same time in some sense it is a strategic rival finish yeah. we have good commercial ties with russia and yet russia is a strategic adversary on many issues. how do you deal with that? you might think of the facebook term frenemy. some kind of category where we have to figure out a way to engage with the world, resist certain kinds of bad behavior but at the same time not launch some kind of grand crusade. i think a lot of the president's critics are nostalgic in a way for the cold war when it was very easy, when it was all the same person. it's a whole new world out there. >> i would suppose in most
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americans' minds, strength translates to troops. americans want the united states to appear strong, but most are against boots on the ground these days. how do you appear strong without the threat of military action? >> i think you put your finger on exactly the challenge the president is going to try to address in this speech. my guess is he's going to try to point out that being strong, being engaged, being internationalists, even being interventionalists in the world doesn't necessarily mean boots on the ground, that we have rallied the world on the ukraine issue or put in place sanctions against russia, are opposing russian efforts to destabilize ukraine, but it would be crazy to try to find a land war with russia over ukraine. so a lot of times i think the president's frustration comes from the fact that the critics seem to be saying you're not doing enough. you're weak. you're giving in, when i think his feeling is, well, i'm doing
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lots of things that are deeply engaged and take a lot of time, energy and effort. what i'm not doing is using the military, and i'm going to be disciplined about that. i think one of the things that is very much part of this president's core belief is that overusing the military actually undermines american power and strength rather than builds it up. >> you'll stay with us in the next hour when president obama begins speaking with us at west point. thanks so much, fareed zach car yeah. bad to sad news, maya angelou has died. the great american pow et and author. she was 86 years old and had long been suffering health problems. fredricka whitfield has a look back. >> the hells we have lived through and live through still have sharpened our senses and toughened our will. >> reporter: celebrated poet and activist maya angelou may have been speaking about herself on that day in 1995.
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born marguerite annie johnson in st. louis, missouri, april 4, 1928, the hells she lived through began at the age of 7 when she was raped by her mother's boyfriend. after she spoke out against him, he was beaten to death by a mob. young marguerite blamed herself. >> i was 7 1/2, my 7 1/2-year-old logic deduced that my voice had killed him, so i stopped speaking for almost six years. >> it was during those years of silence that she discovered poetry and her love of art. >> reporter: her poetry was first physical, winning a dance and drama scholarship in san francisco, then later touring europe in 1954 in "porgy and mess." she became a newspaper editor. in ghana she met malcolm x and returned to the u.s. in 1964 to
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join him in the civil rights movement. after his assassination, dr. martin luther king, junior, asked her to join him. he was killed on her birthday in 1968. the following year, her first memoir was published "i know why the caged bird sings." more best sellers would follow. her books detailed personal struggles, like having a baby as an unwed teenager. that son later became novelist guy johnson. blazing trails on the big and small screens, she directed documentaries. her screenplay for 1972's "georgia georgia" was nominated for a pulitzer prize. she was nominated for a tony award. she won three grammys, in 2011 president barack obama presented her with the presidential medal of freedom. she called herself maya which was her brother's nickname for
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her. ang loo came from her first husband's name. she created her name just as she created poetry, from pieces of herself. >> i am the hope and dream of the slave. so naturally -- there i go rising. >> reporter: fredicricka whitf d whitfield, cnn, atlanta. ♪ ♪ make every day, her day with a full menu of appetizers and entrées crafted with care and designed to delight. fancy feast.
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we're talking about maya angelou's death just before the break. she was 86 years old. had been suffering health problems for quite some time. major league baseball asked her
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to attend a civil rights game so they could hand out awards and she couldn't attend because she was too ill. her accomplishments were so many. she was a great poet, an author. she had a strong voice in the civil rights movement. but i think one of the things i enjoyed most about maya angelou was her voice, it was so deep and powerful and it made you listen. charles blow is on the phone right now. he writes op eds for "the new york times," also a cnn commentator. there are so many great things to say about maya angelou, it's hard to know where to start. >> yes, i think it's just a profound loss. i was just rereading "i know why the caged bird sings" last week. i'm so stunned and taken aback by her passing away. i have this group of writers who i call my literary mothers and
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fathers. this is one of the people who i've always put in the category of one of the mothers and the people who have inspired me and allowed me to see myself when i could least see myself and when i felt least seen and who could articulate a vision of what it meant to be and how it meant -- how you could be and how you could find your strength, particularly as a child. i grew up -- i spent part of my early life in a place called kidwell, arkansas, about 40 miles away from where maya grew up. when she's writing, i'm visualizing everything that i knew. i was with my grand moerth there. she was raised with her grandmother. it just -- the echoes to me of what it's felt like and what it
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meant to be and not to have to apologize for being who you are and to be able to articulate the african-american experience in a way that makes it central and universal to the human experience was the gift that maya -- >> don lemon is also on the phone, cnn's don lemon. in looking back at maya angelou's life, she was everything from a fry cook to a journalist, to a poet, to an author. she suffered a great deal of pain in her life. she's the ultimate survivor. >> are you talking to me, carol? >> don, yes. >> yes, she is. i think clarls is absolutely right in everything he said. much of my stuff is in storage now. but every year i try to read "why the caged bird sings" and i read "price of a ticket" by james baldwin. those are people who are just
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two literary giants -- i try to read a couple books, the same books over every year because it reminds me what it is to be a great writer and what it is to be a great person. maya angelou is this. i also collect vinyl. i have a vinyl album by maya angelou when she sang "cal lip sew." she's done so many things from broadway to being the first woman ever to read a poem -- do you remember "on the pulse of morning," when she did that for president clinton. it was one of the first times that people would say, i thought a poem was supposed to rhyme. i think the larger culture found out about maya angelou, not that she needed to be found out, but to oprah winfrey -- she was oprah's mentor and she would be on the oprah show all the time giving such great wisdom. this is indeed an incredible
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loss. i'm shocked to wake up this morning to hear it and saddened. >> charles, i want you to look at maya angelou's last tweet. it came on may 23rd. she tweeted listen to yourself, in that quietude, you might hear the voice of god. even her tweets were poetic. >> it's amazing. i think what maya is able to do with language and the distillation of the spiritual and mystical, to weave all that together and give meaning to life is an amazing gift that we as writers all aspire to have a voice that transcends kind of the back-and-forth and the hubbub and actually touch the soul. i think that's what maya was able to do with her writing. i think that was -- that's what great writers are able to do. they're able to find in us our
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basic humanity and make us central to their lives by telling their stories. i think, you know, maya will always be remembered as a person who kind of put people at the center of her. i think there's an amazing gift here and i think that can never be glossed over. i think it almost sounds -- it comes off as a thing to do because it comes out so beautifully and hearicly, but it's an incredibly hard thing to do. even for the gifted it's a hard thing to do. she made it look easy. i think we will be forever indebted to her. >> i think, don, one of her other gifts -- you mentioned you collect vinyl and you have an album where she was speaking. she was able to read poetry and make you listen. an incredible talent.
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she had this great persona about her that forced her to listen. i think i'll miss her voice the most, don. >> that's what i wanted to say, her voice, it just resonated. some people are natural singers. they open their mouth and music just pours out, aretha franklin, patty labelle, donny hathaway, karen carpenter was one. they would open their mouths and music would just flow. the same thing with maya angelou. she would speak and you just had to listen. if she was in a room full of people, it was quiet. if you were watching on television at home, you turned the volume up. i remember being there, and she stood at the podium for president clinton's inauguration, and she looked over her glasses and said "a rock, a river, a tree, hosts
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and you were with her to that point until she got to the end. here on the pulse of this new day, speaking of the morning, you may have the grace to look up and out and into your sister's eyes and into your brother's face. your country. and say simply, very simply, with hope. good morning. and it was just that simplicity mixed with the complex that it just -- you were enthralled by it. >> thanks for helping us remember maya angelo. dead at the age of 86. i'll be right back. [ female announcer ] you never know what might be out there. the ambulance racing by you. the ambulance chaser... chasing the ambulance. a rollerblader with headphones who's oblivious to everything.
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tomorrow the house appropriations committee will vote on a bill that would revamp part of the 2010 healthy hunger free kids act to keep part of michelle obama's plan to fight childhood obesity since moving into the white house. the republican backed proposal would make big changes to the law and that prompted the first lady to go on the offensive. athena jones joins me now from washington with more. >> reporter: good morning, carol. we're seeing the first lady get publicly involved in a political fight for really the first time. this goes beyond urging young people to sign up for health insurance. she's taking a position on a legislative debate that's ongoing over this issue she's been passionate about. children and healthy eating. >> it's unacceptable to me not just as first lady but as a mother. >> reporter: fighting words from the first lady sending a message to house republicans who want to relax school nutrition standards she fought for four years ago. >> the last thing that we can afford to do right now is play
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politics with our kids' health. especially when we're finally starting to see some progress on this issue. >> reporter: it's part of a rare political push by president obama to battle a bill that would give schools facing financial problems an extra year to comply with goals to eliminate fat and sodium and encourage more fruits and vegetables in school meals. the mom in chief is known for her let's move campaign against childhood obesity. her white house garden and her focus on healthy eating. but she hasn't waded into the political fights at the other end of pennsylvania avenue until now. >> parents have a right to expect that their kids will get decent foods in their school and we all have a right to expect that our hard earned taxpayer dollars won't be spent on junk food for our kids. >> reporter: supporters of the legislation say some school districts are struggling to find cheap, healthy options and need more time to make sure kids will
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eat the healthier foods, not just throw them away. >> we're not saying let's put junk food back on the serving line. for most districts that hasn't been part of the school meal in many, many years. but we want to make sure that students are comfortable with these changes and are willing to take what's offered to them and will find it acceptable and enjoyable. >> reporter: and so as you mentioned at the top, this bill is set to go to the full house appropriations committee tomorrow. and we expect the first lady to stay involved in this fight. as long as the current nutrition standards are under threat, we'll probably be hearing more from her. carol? >> athena jones reporting live from washington this morning. president obama's speech on foreign policy expected to get under way soon at west point. our special coverage after a break.
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good morning. i'm carol costello. i would like to welcome cnn viewers here in the united states and around the world. just minutes from now, president obama discusses the future role of the united states in the world and he'll outline his foreign policy before the next generation of military leaders. let's head to washington now and wolf blitzer. >> thanks very much. the president's commencement speech is at the u.s. military academy at west point but aimed also at a nation that's weary from a decade of war. they will stress the value of international cooperation in dealing with world crises and avoid the open end the conflicts that left american troops bogged down for so many years in iraq and afghanistan. president obama will push back against critics that say he's a weakened president and no longer packing the threat of swift and decisive military action. this will be a major foreign policy address by the president. we have our cnn correspondents
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covering all the angles and they are spanning the globe. we have live reports from london to washington to ukraine and elsewhere. let's go to london first. our chief international correspondent christiane amanpour is there. the president has a significant agenda on his plate this morning. he's not only speaking to the people here in the united states, he's speaking to the entire world. >> you're absolutely right. to that point, many of his allies both until europe and around the world in the middle east and elsewhere do express private frustration with what they see as a lack of u.s. leadership on perhaps the most critical issue they point to is syria. what the president is going to do in syria any different than what the u.s. has done until now, we're not sure and we'll wait to hear. after all these years of this intervention that's defeated al qaeda as you know, the syria conflict has allowed al qaeda to
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rear its head again and be effective again and to threaten that whole region. i think what people around the world see about the united states is this incredible pendulum effect that seems to happen. during eight years of the bush administration, there was what many saw as too much intervention and now in the nearly eight years of the obama administration, people see a pendulum shift to the other way and to the other direction too little intervention. it doesn't necessarily mean war or military intervention that could stabilize difficult places like syria. >> jim, you spent the last couple days in ukraine. what's the image of the united states specifically president obama in ukraine? >> there is similar frustration there. i spoke to a lot of ukrainians that have seen words from president obama but they haven't seen actions they expected.
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even senior government officials saying publicly that they are ready now for harder economic sanctions against russia because although the election over the weekend was largely successful, the whole eastern part of the country really not allowed to vote. disenfranchised because russia-backed militants operate in many areas with impunity. you hear that frustration there in the principle challenge of the president's second term and a place that no one expected. who expected a major foreign policy focus to be in europe in the year 2014. so i think that this is something as well that administration officials are aware of. that comment he made on his asia trip a couple weeks ago about hitting singles and doubles in his foreign policy, that's not what ukrainians or syrians or asians expect from america. they expect a bigger picture mission statement in effect and this speech today is a response to some of that skepticism out there. an attempt by the president to tie it all together and to
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provide the connective tissue to these various foreign policy challenges and the way the president is responding to them. it comes of course at a crucial time because this is defining president obama's legacy with a little over 2 1/2 years to go to his presidency and when foreign policies are critical issues. where is the pivot today when the u.s. is dragged back into the middle east even to europe. this is what there is really hunger, real appetite out there for the president to define. what is the way forward? what does it mean for american leadership? what is the mission statement? that's the question he has to answer today. >> he certainly does. standby. i want to bring in nicholas burns. let's not forget, nick, the president is going to address graduating cadets from west point. this is the first graduation
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class in a while, most of whom who will not immediately be deployed to a war zone with the u.s. basically almost completely out of iraq. a few troops around the u.s. embassy in baghdad. not very many. most u.s. troops now will be out of afghanistan by the end of this year although the president yesterday announced 9,800 will remain next year. what's the single most important message he has to give this small audience of west point ca cadets? >> this is a big opportunity for the president to say he does have successes to point to. the policy in iran. the choice for a negotiated settlement with iranians rather than war. it seems to me that was a very good decision by the president. secondly, he has given -- these cadets will want to hear this -- some definition to this so-called pivot to asia. the president has focused on china and japan and building up
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our alliance system in asia and climate change. the first american president to take it seriously and do something about it with upcoming epa decision on coal. there's no question, wolf, there's a perception around the world that america has stepped back and pulled back on throttle of leadership. the reason for that is the syria decision backing away from confronting president assad last september and the weakened european response on ukraine but this is an opportunity for the president to give his direction for the way forward. he has 31 months left. that's a very long time. >> standby, nick. michelle kosinski is our white house correspondent. how specific do we know the president will be when it comes to a new strategy of directly arming moderate syrian rebels who are fighting the bashar al assad regime? >> it looks likes we're not paying attention to you. we got prepared remarks from the president. we've seen his address in terms
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of syria. it figures in heavily. when you look at the situation of president obama's foreign policy and how it's perceived at home and in the world, where is he taking most of the vocal criticism lately? syria. that red line that he drew against the assad regime's use of chemical weapons which they then did. that's come up recently. in regard to the situation in ukraine, people are asking questions asking will there be another red line? should we draw one and then how do you draw one and not acting? from reading these remarks just now, the president said he would betray his duty to the country that we love if he worried about the critics who feel that the only way for america to not look weak is to use military intervention. he did say no american boots on the ground in syria. we now know there's not going to be an announcement in that sense. he's now saying and as we heard secretary of state kerry say earlier, his own administration,
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that there is going to be this expanded support for that moderate syrian opposition fighting the assad regime. what exact shape that's going to take we're not sure just yet. he's making another announcement he wants this counterterrorism partnership fund. it would be up to $5 billion. it would need to be approved by congress. it would involve the u.s. in partnership with other nations to do this intervention in certain countries where there is an expanded terrorist threat or a growing one. what this speech is about is moving those resources out of iraq and afghanistan and really what comes next? what should focus be? we've heard over the past few days that there are these other splinter groups that are causing real problems in other areas and how do we get on the leading edge of that instead of on the reactive side as president obama's critics have hammered him about in the last year or so. >> all right. standby. looking at live pictures from west point.
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the president getting ready to deliver a major foreign policy speech outlining the u.s. strategy for the obama administration over the next couple of years and beyond. our special coverage will continue in a moment. beautiful day in baltimore where most people probably know that geico could save them money on car insurance, right? you see the thing is geico, well, could help them save on boat insurance too. hey! okay...i'm ready to come in now. hello? i'm trying my best. seriously, i'm...i'm serious. request to come ashore. geico. saving people money on more than just car insurance. we cannot let the fans down. don't worry! the united states postal service will get it there on time with priority mail flat rate shipping.
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you're looking at live pictures from west point. the west point academy in upstate new york. the cadets have stood. that means the president of the united states is about to walk in for this commencement
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ceremony. the president of the united states will deliver a major foreign policy address. here comes the president. let's just listen and watch for a second. ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 21st secretary of the army, the 38th chief of staff and 59th superintendent of the united states military academy. ♪ >> there they are. they will be welcoming the president of the united states who will deliver a major foreign policy address before these graduating west point cadets. we want to welcome once again our viewers here in the united states and around the world. we have all of our reporters
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standing by in washington and around the world for special coverage of what the white house has described as a major foreign policy address. an address that correctly impacts these graduates of the west point academy. we'll have live coverage of what the president has to say. i want to go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr monitoring the reaction yesterday on the eve of this address, the president outlined a plan to withdraw u.s. forces from afghanistan. there are about 35,000 or so still there right now. he says next year there will be 9,800 and year after half of that. what's been the reaction at the pentagon? >> as we await the president in the next couple seconds -- i think we're going to the president now, wolf. ♪
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♪ [ applause ] >> there the president. the program is about to begin. there will be various speakers. the president will address his major foreign address. as we await the president and his address before these west
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point cadets, let's bring back barbara starr. what has the reaction been at the pentagon to his announcement yesterday that 9,800 troops will remain next year and half that the following year before a full withdraw and hundreds will remain at the u.s. embassy in kabul. >> i think the pentagon expected this. it's what they were working on. this was the option. beginning of the end of that 9/11 chapter of military service. as you look at this audience, you see these cadets and you have to remember that these young men and women were perhaps 10-year-old children on the morning of 9/11 so the country certainly turning the page, but why does all of this matter to an american family? what have we seen that is beyond these grand words and this international diplomatic strategy? what the president is also doing is talking to those military
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families and families across the country about what lies ahead in the coming years for those who join the military. for young people in this country that decide to choose military service. they may not be going to the battlefields of iraq and afghanistan. they may not be headed into major ground combat wars, but where they may be headed is still into conflicts that we can't really foresee. places like yemen, nigeria, libya, syria. these are the places we talk about counterterrorism. these are the places where al qaeda is on the rise, where u.s. intelligence officials believe al qaeda extremist elements still to this day are plotting attacks against u.s. targets overseas and against the u.s. homeland. the military always says it has to be smart all the time. al qaeda just has to be lucky once. and that is the risk at hand here for these men and women serving in the u.s. military.
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you know, on september 10th, 2001, no one could have foreseen what would happen the next day and that is still the case today. military commanders will tell you all the strategy in the world is good but the enemy still gets a vote and the president can lay out this strategy but the military, the u.s. intelligence community still very much on station. very much on alert around the world to see where those next threats may be coming from, wolf. >> barbara stand by. nick paton walsh is joining us as well from ukraine right now. he spent a lot of time in syria covering that civil war. nick, what's your sense over there as you hear the president announce that -- we expect that perhaps he might go a bit further today and announce some additional u.s. military training for what you describe as moderate syrian rebels opposed to the bashar al assad regime. there is concern that some of that support could wind up in the hands of al qaeda, which has built up a significant presence
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fighting bashar al assad itself. >> now, wolf, there are no good choices when it comes to syria. that time for potentially successful, easy, fast resolution has passed. we deal with an opposition that wants to look like they're doing enough to exist so they let civilians in the north go unpunished. they don't want to change the nature of the battle on the ground. the syrian opposition allied with al qaeda, a potential training ground for terrorists and a concern about them coming back to the united states. it's complex in syria to say the least. the other issue is while the u.s. and middle east tries to seek a negotiated statement with iran, it's not compatible to oust their main ally in the region. some say the u.s. has taken a
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broader strategic look at the middle east and decided that trying to negotiate iran from having a nuclear weapon is the best way forward and then perhaps the consequence or sacrifice of that is not moving full speed to remove president bashar al assad. on the ground the regime has in many ways the upper hand and the concern is if you say ramp up the aid too fast to syrian rebels, perhaps it goes to the wrong people. there have been small programs, training rebels here and there and in jordan and more equipment, lethal and nonlethal, finding its way slowly to them but purposely not enough to change the balance on the ground because that seems to be going in the regime's failure. we talk about syria being a legacy issue for obama. they will debate whether he made the right choice. he that option for a stark intervention when chemical weapons were used. backed away from it whether he chose to put congress in there as a buffer to allow him to back away. no one will know at this point. the key issue certainly is his
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legacy will be judged as he said yesterday on how when he came to power there were 180,000 u.s. troops in harm's way in iraq and afghanistan. by the end of this year, there could be as little as 9,800. the real issue is there is no money in the coffers for further military action. the obama administration had to clean that mess up in many ways. that was done in iraq partially but afghanistan will see u.s. troops begin to withdraw. did he have the option for further military action and put troops on the ground in syria. he didn't. >> momentarily the president of the united states will deliver his major foreign policy address before these west point graduating cadets. the world will be watching to hear what the president has to say. he'll go through a lot of major foreign policy issues. one important issue right now is the state of u.s./russian
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relations. that state not very good. let's go to moscow. phil black has been monitoring this relationship. how much has it deteriorated from the russian perspective? you're there in russia, fill. >> enormously in the russia perspective and u.s. perspective. it rolls back to the time that vladimir putin returned to the presidency of this country. in the first term there was a reset policy. it was optimistic and to some degree constructive. critics say it was naive. the administration argued they got real things done. >> phil, hold on. hold on. the superintendent of west point just introduced the commander in chief, the president of the united states. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. thank you. thank you, general, for that
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introduction. to general trainor, general clark, faculty and staff at west point, you have been outstanding stewards of this proud institution and outstanding mentors for the newest officers in the united states army. i would like to acknowledge the army's leadership. general mccue and senator jack reid who is here and a proud graduate of west point himself. to the class of 2014, i congratulate you on taking your place on the long, great line. among you is the first all female command team. you have a road scholar.
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and josh proves that west point accuracy extends beyond the three-point line. to the entire class, let me reassure you in these final hours at west point, as commander in chief, i hereby absolve all cadets on restriction for minor conduct offenses. [ applause ] let me just add that nobody ever did that for me when i was in school. i know you join me in extending a word of thanks to your families. joe, whose son, james, is graduating, spoke for a whole lot of parents when he wrote me a letter about the sacrifices
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you've made. deep inside, he wrote, we want to explode with pride at what they are committing to do in the service of our country. like several graduates, james is a combat veteran. i would ask all of us here today to stand and pay tribute not only to the veterans among us but to the more than 2.5 million americans who have served in iraq and afghanistan as well as their families. [ applause ]
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this is a particularly useful time for america to reflect on those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. a few days after memorial day. you are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in iraq or afghanistan. [ applause ] when i first spoke at west point in 2009, we still had more than 100,000 troops in iraq. we were preparing to surge in afghanistan. our counterterrorism efforts were focused on al qaeda's core leadership. those who carried out the 9/11
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attacks. our nation was just beginning a long climb out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression. four and a half years later as you graduate, the landscape has changed. we have removed our troops from iraq. we are winding down our war in afghanistan. al qaeda's leadership on the border region between pakistan and afghanistan has been decimated and osama bin laden is no more. [ applause ] through it all we refocused our investments in what has always been a key source of american strength. a growing economy that can provide opportunity for everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility here at home. in fact, by most measures,
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america has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. those who argue otherwise, who suggest that america is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away, are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. think about it. our military has no pier. the odds of a direct threat against us by any nation are low and do not come close to the dangers we faced during the cold war. our economy remains the most dynamic on earth. our businesses the most innovative. each year we grow more energy independent. from europe to asia, we are the hub of alliances unrivalled in the history of nations.
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america continues to attract striving immigrants. the values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in squares around the globe. and when a typhoon hits the philippines or school girls are kidnapped in nigeria or masked men occupy a building in ukraine, it's america that the world looks to for help. [ applause ] the united states is and remains the one indispensable nation. it has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. the world is changing with
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accelerated speed. this presents opportunity but also new dangers. we know all too well after 9/11 just how technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of individuals raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm. russia's aggression toward former soviet states unnerves capitals in europe while echinas economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. from brazil to india, rising middle classes compete with us and governments seek a greater say in global forums. and even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of
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sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago. it will be your generation's task to respond to this new world. the question we face, the question each of you will face, is not whether america will lead but how we will lead. not just to secure our peace and prosperity but extend peace and prosperity around the globe. now this question isn't new. at least since george washington served as commander in chief. there have been those who warned against foreign entanglements do not touch directly on our
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security or economic well-being. today according to self-described realists, conflict in syria or ukraine or the central african republic are not ours to solve. and not surprisingly after costly wars and continuing challenges here at home, that view is shared by many americans. a different view from interventionists from left and right say we ignore these conflicts at our own peril and america's willingness to apply force around the world is the ultimate safeguard against chaos and america's failure to act in the face of syrian brutality invites escalating violence in the future. each side can point to history to support its claims.
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but i believe neither view fully speaks to the demands of this moment. it is absolutely true that in the 21st american isolationism is not an option. we don't have a choice to ignore what happens beyond our borders. if nuclear materials are not secure, that poses a danger to american citizens. as the syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle hardened extremist groups to come after us only increases. regional aggression that goes unchecked whether in southern ukraine or the south china sea or anywhere else in the world will ultimately impact our allies and could draw in our military. we can't ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.
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beyond these narrow rationales, i believe we have a real stake, abiding self-interest in making sure our children and our grandchildren grow up in a world where school girls are not kidnapped and where individuals are not slaughtered because of tribe or faith or political belief. i believe that a world of greater freedom and tolerance is not only a moral imperative, it also helps to keep us safe. but to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution. since world war ii some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without
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thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the american people about the sacrifices required. tough talk often draws headlines but war rarely conforms to slogans. as general eisenhower, someone with hard earn knowledge on this subject, said at this ceremony in 1947, war is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly. to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men. like eisenhower, this generation of men and women in uniform know all too well the wages of war and that includes those of you here at west point.
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four of the service members who stood in the audience when i announced the surge of our forces in afghanistan gave their lives in that effort. a lot more were wounded. i believe america's security demanded those deployments, but i am haunted by those deaths. i am haunted by those wounds. i would betray my duty to you and to the country we love if i ever sent you into harm's way simply because i saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed to be fixed or because i was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for america to avoid looking weak. here's my bottom line.
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america must always lead on the world stage. if we don't, no one else will. the military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. but u.s. military action cannot be the only or even primary component of our leadership in every instance. just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. because the cost associated with military actions are so high, you should expect every civilian leader and especially your commander in chief to be clear about how that awesome power should be used. so let me spend the rest of my time describing my vision for
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how the united states of america and our military should lead in the years to come. for you will be part of that leadership. first, let me repeat a principle i put forward at the outset of my presidency. the united states will use military force unilaterally if necessary when our core interest demand it. when our people are threatened. when our livelihoods are at stake. when the security of our allies is in danger. in these circumstances, we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just. international opinion matters. but america should never ask permission to protect our
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people, our homeland or our way of life. [ applause ] on the other hand when issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the united states, when such issues are at stake, when crises arise that stir our conscious or push the world in a more dangerous direction, but do not directly threaten us, the threshold for military action must be higher. in such circumstances, we should not go it alone. instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. we have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development, sanctions, isolation. appeals to international law and if just, necessary and effective multilateral military action.
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in such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed. more likely to be sustained. less likely to lead to costly mistakes. this leads to my second point. for the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to america at home and abroad remains terrorism. but a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naive and unsustainable. i believe we must shift our counterterrorism strategy drawing on the successes and shortcomings of our experiences in iraq and afghanistan to more effectively partner with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold.
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and the need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today's principle threat no longer comes from a centralized al qaeda leadership. instead, it comes from decentralized al qaeda affiliates and extremists with agendas focused in the country where they operate and this lessons the possibility of large scale 9/11 attacks against the homeland but heightens the danger of u.s. personnel overseas being attacked as we saw in benghazi. it heightens the danger to less defensible targets as we saw in a shopping mall in nairobi. so we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat. one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin or stir up local resentments.
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we need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. and empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in afghanistan. together with our allies, america struck huge blows against al qaeda core and pushed back against an insurgency that threatened to overrun the country. sustaining this progress depends on the ability of afghans to do the job. that's why we trained hundreds of thousands of afghan soldiers and police. earlier this spring, those forces, those afghan forces, secured an election in which afghans voted for the first democratic transfer of power in their history. and at the end of this year a new afghan president will be in office and america's combat mission will be over.
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now -- [ applause ] that was an enormous achievement made because of america's armed forces. but as we move to a train and advise mission in afghanistan, our reduced presence there allows us to more effectively address emerging threats in the middle east and north africa. so earlier this year i asked my national security team to develop plan for a network of partnerships. today as part of this effort i'm calling on congress to support a new counterterrorism partnerships fund of up to $5 billion which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines. these he will sources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions including
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training security forceses s i yemen who have gone on the offensive against al qaeda and supporting a force to keep the peace in somali and working with european allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in libya and facilitating french operations in mali. a critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in syria. as frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there. no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering any time soon. as president, i made a decision that we should not put american troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and i believe that is the right decision. but that does not mean we shouldn't help the syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own
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people. and in helping those who fight for the right of all syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos. so with the additional resources i'm announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support syria's neighbors. jordan and lebanon, turkey and iraq, as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across syria's borders. i will work with congress to ramp up support for those in the syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in europe and the arab world to push for a political resolution of this crisis and to make sure that those countries are not just the united states contributing their fair share to
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support the syrian people. let me make one final point about our efforts against terrorism. the partnerships i've described do not eliminate the need to take direct action when necessary to protect ourselves. when we have actionable intelligence, that's what we do. through capture operations like e bomb our embassies in 1998 to face justice or drone strikes like those we carried out in yemen and somalia. there are times when those actions are necessary and we cannot hesitate to protect our people. but as i said last year, in taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. that means taking strikes only
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when we face a continuing imminent threat and only where there is no certainty -- there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. for our actions should meet a simple test. we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield. i also believe we must be more transparent about both the basis of our counterterrorism actions and the manner in which they are carried out. we have to be able to explain them publicly, whether it is drone strikes or training partners. i will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. our intelligence community has done outstanding work and we have to continue to protect sources and methods but when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and
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international suspicion, we erode legitimacy with our partners and our own people and reduce accountability in our own government. this issue of transparency is colle collect relevant to restoring american order. from nato and the united nations to the world bank and imf. these institutions are not perfect but they have been a force multiplier. they reduce the need for unilateral american action and reduce constraint among other nations. now just as the world has
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changed, this architecture must change as well. at the height of the cold war president kennedy spoke about the need for a peace based upon a gradual evolution in human institutions. evolving these international institutions to meet the demands of today must be a critical part of american leadership. now, there are a lot of folks and skeptics that downplay the effectiveness of multilateral action. for them working through international institutions like the u.n. or respecting international law is a sign of weakness. i think they're wrong. let me offer just two examples why. in ukraine, russia's recent actions recall the days of when soviet tanks rolled into eastern europe but this isn't the cold war. our ability to shape world
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opinion helped isolate russia right away. because of american leadership, the world immediately condemned russian actions, europe and g-7 joined us to impose sanctions, nato reinforced our commitment to allies and imf is helping to stabilize ukraine's economy. osc monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of ukraine and this mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to russian prop gran propagand and and this weekend ukrainians voted by the millions. yesterday i spoke to their next president. we don't know how the situation will play out and there will remain grave challenges ahead but standing with our allies on behalf of international order
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working with international institutions has given a chance for the ukrainian people to choose their future. without us firing a shot. similarly, despite frequent warnings from the united states and israel and others, the iranian nuclear program steadily advanced for years, but at the beginning of my presidency we build a co built a coalition and now we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. the odds of success are still long. we reserve all options to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement, one that is more effective and durable
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than what we could have achieved through the use of force. and throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side. the point is this is american leadership. this is american strength. and in each case we built co coalitions to respond to a specific challenge and we need to do more to strengthen the institutions that can prevent problems from spreading. for example, nato is the strongest alliance the world has ever known but we're not working with nato allies to meet new missions, both within europe where eastern allies must be reassured but also beyond europe's borders. where our nato allies have to pull their weight to counterterrorism and respond to
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failed states and train a network of partners. likewise, the u.n. provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict. now we need to make sure those nations that provide peacekeepers have training and equipment to actually keep the peace to prevent the killing we've seen in congo and sudan. we're going to deepen our investment in countries that support these peace keeping missions because having other nations maintain order in their own neighborhoods lessons the need for us to put our own troops in harm's way. it's a smart investment. it's the right way to lead. [ applause ] keep in mind not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict. we have a serious problem with cyberattacks, which is why we're working to shape and enforce
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rules to secure our networks and our citizens. in the asian pacific, we're supporting southeast asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with china on maritime disputes in the south china sea. we're working to resolve these disputes through international law. that spirit of cooperation needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change. a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year i intend to make sure america is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet. you see, american influence is always stronger when we lead by
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example. we can't exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. we can't call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a lot of our political leaders deny that it's taken place. we can't try to resolve problems in the south china sea when we have refused to make sure that the law of the sea convention is ratified by our united states senate despite the fact that our top military leaders say the treaty advances our national security. that's not leadership. that's retreat. that's not strength. that's weakness. it would be utterly foreign to
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leaders like roosevelt and truman, eisenhower and kennedy. i believe in american exceptionalism with every fiber of my being but what makes us exceptional is not flouting international norms and the rule of law, it's our willingness to affirm them through our actions. [ applause ] that's why i will continue to push to close gitmo because american values do not permit indefinite detention of people beyond our borders. [ applause ] that's why we're putting in place new restrictions on how america collects and uses intelligence because we will have fewer partners and be less effective if a perception takes hold that we're conducting surveillance against ordinary
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citizens. [ applause ] america does not simply stand for stability or the absence of conflict no matter what the cost. we stand for the more lasting peace that can only come through opportunity and freedom for people everywhere. which brings me to the fourth and final element of american leadership. our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. america's support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism. it's a matter of national security. democracies is our closest friends and far less likely to go to war. economies based on free and open markets perform better and become markets for our goods. respect for human rights is an antidote to instability and
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grievances that fuel violence and terror. a new century has brought no end to tyranny and capitals around the globe including unfortunately some of america's partners, there's been crackdown on civil society. the cancer of corruption has enriched too many governments and their cronies and enraged citizens from remote villages to iconic squares and watching these trends or violent upheaval in parts of the arab world, it's easy to be cynical. but remember that because of america's efforts, because of american diplomacy and foreign assistance and the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history. technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron
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fist can control. new breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. and even the upheaval of the arab world reflects the authoratoryian power. in countries like egypt, we acknowledge our interests peacet shared efforts against violent extremism. we haven't cut off cooperation with a new government but we can and will press for reforms that the egyptian people have demanded. meanwhile, looking at a country like berma which a few years ago was a dictatorship and hostile to the united states. 40 million people. thanks to the enormous courage
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of the people in that country and because we took the diplomatic initiative, american leadership, we have seen political reforms opening a once closed society. a movement by leadership away from partnership with north korea in favor of engagement with america and our allies. we're now supporting reform and badly needed national reconciliation through assistance and investment, through coaxing and at times public criticism. and progress could be reversed but if berma succeeds, we would have gained a new partner without having fired a shot. american leadership. in each of these cases, we should not expect change to happen overnight. that's why we form alliances not just with governments but also with ordinary people. for unlike other nations america is not afraid o